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May 6, 2009

The metro war with Lalbaugh park in Bengaluru.

Many years ago, there was a plan to destroy cubbon park and build a freedom fighter’s memorial called the veera soudha. People protested, and there was a move to shift it “somewhere else”, the Govt. circular from that time says. Excerpt about the struggle at that time:

About two decades ago a large portion of Lalbagh was marked out for a massive Veera Soudha. Five thousand people gathered and protested. The Government breathed fire and the then Chief Minister made statements that they would implement the project come what may. But people persisted, and the Government had to back down. Which is why you now see no Veera Soudha in Bangalore, and Lalbagh is intact.
A decade ago, 32 acres of Cubbon Park were marked out for building a large hotel complex. Several of us protested. Dharma, Chandra and many others from Sanmathi stood there and protested for close to 40 days.  Not only the Government, but the entire Legislature was against us. They even made many insulting remarks against women, so lewd that the statements had to be expunged from the record. Eventually the plans to build a large hotel complex for the legislators were abandoned, which is why you now see the Indira Gandhi fountains.
The point is clear. It is people’s protests that stopped such disastrous destruction of parks then. It is only people’s protests that will stop the destruction of Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao Park, and give us a Metro that we truly deserve. Something that will last a hundred years, and something for which Mr. Yeddyurappa’s great grandchildren will also praise him and his wisdom in stopping the current alignment, his wisdom in re-aligning the Metro to save Lalbagh, Lakshman Rao Park and half of Bangalore.

We, the citizen wonder why the Metro needs to destroy Lalbaugh park and LR Park. As per a mail being circulated by Hasiru Usiru:

The Government passed an Ordinance on 22 November 2008 to avoid bringing the issue to the Assembly and Council for debate. This Ordinance is illegal because it has taken out a portion of Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park without seeking the permission of the Karnataka High Court as required by its judgements.

What’s more, the Government has directed the Horticulture Department to sell a piece of Lalbagh to the Metro at a price fixed by the Bangalore District Commissioner! A terrible precedent is being established.

The Karnataka Parks (Preservation) Act requires special permission to be taken before altering Lalbaugh or Cubbon Parks. This has not been done.


April 30, 2009

Bangalore metro plan and BIAL high speed rail link

Bangalore metro plans to link different parts of BLR with a partly underground, partly over the ground rail network. In the process, it has lead to significant removal of greenery. The metro by itself seems to have a simple route, and has been thought out with current congestion patterns. But it has ignored the airport- an important transit point in any major city. Oh well, the powers-that-be (In this case, the KSIIDC) have planned a high-speed rail link (HSRL) for that section. Some key figures for HSRL:

  • HSRL connects M G Road to BIA and traverses Cubbon Road, Chowdaiah Road, Ramana Maharshi Road, Bellary Road and corridor after Hebbal
  • Final cost estimated at Rs 5,767 crore
  • The 34-km rail link will cover distance from city to BIA in 25 minutes
  • HSRL will be integrated with Metro at Minsk Square; with Metro Phase II at Yelahanka and proposed mono-rail at Hebbal

HSRL conveniently forgets a few pertinent aspects (Other blogs: [1][2]):

  • Its nodal point is planned to be MG road, which is already chock-blocked with traffic; even Hebbal is not any better. And if I have to travel to Hebbal from South Bangalore to catch the HSRL, I might as well travel the extra few kilometers to get to Devanhalli.
  • Does an average traveler want to reach BIAL within 23 minutes as compared to 1 hour?
  • Connectivity to metro will be through a 200 meter walkway from the proposed Minsk Square Station. 200 meter walkway; with luggage. Nice. (Article on how HSRL can affect other transport)
  • Cheaper cost of HSRL was initially waved as a plus point. Cost escalations have now made this claim empty. Initial cost of HSRL was estimated at Rs 3,700 crore, revised to Rs 4,313 crore (excluding cost of government/BBMP lands), final completion cost: Rs 5,767 crore.

A travel system has to grow organically, providing for other transit options and allowing for area around the airport to grow steadily. What if they do the HSRL and the area around Devanhalli develops completely, needing more connectivity to the airport along stations between Hebbal and BIAL. HSRL is apparently not designed to have more than 3-4 stations. Would we need to develop another rail link or the metro? Map showing how the transit options could be:

My guess is that this is a mix of both bureaucratic confusion and petty politics; one guy comes along and implements the metro. Another guy needs a pet peeve and implements the HSRL. Both have something to say to their vote bank.

January 31, 2009

Long time no see; new car and traffic violations

Filed under: bangalore, social change, traffic — neosurya @ 04:38

It has been a long time since i have posted. Several things have happened. The baby is awesome. We had a naming ceremony in eary Jan. I bought a car. Tata Indigo Marina VS; white color. Very basic to look at, but very nice on the road. I like it that way.

I have had two tickets. 🙂 Both times, it has been for a no-entry offense. The traffic police has a black berry on which he enters your licence plate number, and he immediately gets all your history. Then you pay the fine and you get a receipt. I have seen traffic policemen stand around with cameras – No, they are not taking family pictures. They take photos of license plates, and send you a fine by mail. The system could be misused, and I have had colleagues tell me that it is misused. I do not yet know the veracity and extent of misuse though.

The fine system has been made very functional, but the traffic signs and training is pretty bad. The no-entry sign has a Blue background, Black arrow, and Red color mark on the arrow. Blue-Black-Red… Great contrast I must say, especially on streets where hajaar other useless things mess with every half-useful sign.

Attended a talk at Navadarshanam. It was started by a group of IITans in the early 90s. To cite from the group’s mission:

* people all over the world today are caught in the dangerous, swirling, currents of the materialistic, urban industrial way of life.
* alienation of the individual from self, nature, and the Creative Power is going hand in hand with societal disintegration and ecological destruction.

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